Saturday, December 4, 2010

Some thoughts on Writing

Well I'm close to breaking point, as much as I love the snow, cabin fever is firmly setting in, resulting in lots of deep thinking and ponderings.

I found out this week that my chapter did not get short listed for the first chapters competition. To be perfectly honest I knew this would happen but as I posted on someone's blog recently - you always have that annoying little optimist inside saying 'maybe you will get it this time'.

Really starting to hate that little eejit.

ALthough I have assignments etc. due next week, I'm taking this weekend off after having an insanely busy month (i.e. November) but I just can't get in the groove of writing. Partly because I am me - a person who can only get motivated to work on her fiction when she's underpressure with other things like work!

But also because it sucks not to be shortlisted/rejected or whatever. It leaves you questionning yourself and your abilities (or the lack thereof). Kind of getting sick of it myself to be honest (not the rejection but more the self-doubt). So last night, sitting on the loo (lovely image I know but seems to be the place for serious thinking), I had a realisation - a quiet one though, not a shocking slam bam one - basically that writing and getting published is going to take a loooooong time (duh! i hear you say) so why stress yourself about it!?!!

You see, originally I thought that someday I would become a full-time writer, that my day job (which I thoroughly enjoy) was a place holder for the day I became a poet and author and lived in big grand house by the sea with a study and library and had a handsome man who rubbed my feet and fed me chocolates (yes that is me on the sofa).

Completely realistic, yes?

Anyhoo, the way I planned my writing was through periods of time i.e. I will have such and such done by xxx and then that way I can have final draft done by xxx. I never completed these goals, which always left me feeling utterly shit about myself. So What's the point of this?! I'm not a published/contracted writer. I have no deadlines. It was like I had become that priest from the DiVinci Code, except in stead of using a whip, it was like a thousand little paper cuts from my diary, with each cut saying "you are not worthy. you did not complete your quota. YOU FOOL!!!"

Mental. I know. But as well as a optimist, I also have a little masochist too. I think he's the one who likes to write as well :)

A motto of doing phd, is "there is no such thing as a perfect phd - only a complete one", there is truth in this. But phd also teaches you to realise that anything that involves creation takes time and hard work. Similarly I would rather give myself the next 2-3years to write an amazing debut book, than to write it in a 6months-year and to have it completely rejected. That being said, the three year book would probably be rejected too (this is why the little masochist loves writing).

The point of this rambling post (apart from making me sound like I've multiple personalities) is to say writing is important to me. I shall continue to write whenever I can. But it's time to take a step back from the dream and to just write. Completion of an excellent book is the goal. Publication is just a bonus of that goal. It will no longer be the motivation (I've been reading ALOT about motivation and goal recently for work).

Easier said than done - i know, but I think it's time to write, just for the sake of writing.

And time to let go of the house with the man slave.

Pah, this was meant to be a small post and look at it now. Apologies anyone reading this - I should have put a disclaimer warning of the ramblings.

Also NB Let me know if these sort of posts get annoying. Last thing one needs to read is a lot of whinging by some nobody who wants to be a writer!!! (which basically sums up my blog)


Anne R. Allen said...

I feel your pain. No, really. I'm going through the same sort of murky night of the soul-and I've been pursuing this dream for 20 years. The daily rejections hurt just as much.

If we keep thinking of publication (or re-publication) as a goal, we'll all dissolve in a puddle of despair. The percentage of new novelists getting contracts these days is miniscule.

But change is in the air. The project you're working on now may hit a friendlier market in two or three years. (And you live in Ireland, where the worship of ignorance and stupidity hasn't taken over the culture, and people still like to laugh, so you have much more reason to hope--can I come over there? :-))

You're so lucky you're in a field you love and you're getting the education you need to do it. Having a decent day job is probably the key to being able to write. And it's true--the best inspiration always comes when you're doing something else.

And, to paraphrase the late, great John Lennon, "Life is what happens while you're trying to start a writing career."

Emily Cross said...

@Anne, that is such a wonderful comment. I feel like copy and pasting it and sticking it above my laptop to keep me going :)

Ireland indeed has certain tastes, such as literary, contemporary, romance, humour etc. but limited market really for fantasy or paranormal.

I like you're John Lennon quote. :)

Thanks so much, your posts are always so insightful :)

chicknamedhermia said...

Sorry about the competition, but in fairness, how many times was Harry Potter rejected and now look at JK!

Emily Cross said...

@Hermia, thank you for the kind words :) Listened to John B Keane's widow talk about how he used to get rejected. She would actually check his post and hide the rejections. Now that is what I call love :)

xoxo said...

Girl don't beat yourself up--that's what friends are for :P
But seriously, writing is supposed to be fun and if someone ever gets it into their heads to call your story rubbish well all you have to think is "it's your word against mine, now who am I going to believe??"

clairehennessy said...

Really interesting to hear your thoughts on writing especially in comparison to the PhD - have been having a number of conversations with people recently about writing up and researching and thinking in postgrad-land, and seeing a lot of parallels, particularly with appreciating the headspace and breathing space that's needed. And, yes, the masochism of both. :)

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